West Bend, WI – After 18 years in business, Doug Schalla will retire his sign and close his doors. At 60, he says, “It’s time to retire.
Schalla began working with his father, Gordon, at his boutique on Villard Avenue in Milwaukee, where he specialized in watches. Schalla spent about four years working as a goldsmith at Maus Jewelers, then shifted her career to West Bend Tire. After a dozen years in the automotive sector, he returns to his roots with watch repair and jewelry.
“I didn’t go to any real watch schools or anything like that,” Schalla said. “I have a watchmaker, I send all the hardware out to fix, but I can do crystals, watch batteries, and a ton of little repairs with watch straps and things like that.”
Home, for Schalla Jewelers, came in a small storefront at 235 S. Main Street in West Bend, WI.
The building, built in 1960, had a life of its own before Schalla moved there. Stepping behind the counter, he pulls out a few dusty photo frames that contain a collage of the building’s past, including Staehler’s Beer Depot and several black-and-white grainy ones. white photos of Carl’s Choice Liquor, Berre’s Liquors and Create it Ceramics.
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The photo below from September 1965 looks like a Maxwell Street Days sale outside Carl’s Choice.
When Schalla opened his neighbors were Apple Barrel General Store to the north and Riverside Brewery was under construction. Neuy’s Tap was to the south with a large sign that said: Color TV. Across the street was West Bend Savings; now Westbury.
Some of the fond memories of the store include having a prominent place for annual parades and people. “I just like people coming in. My clients are very nice. Joyful. You know, I’ve had the dog here for 12 years now and everyone comes to see Maggie,” he said.
The decision to close the store was difficult. “I kind of feel like I’m leaving my clients,” he said. “I don’t know where some people are going to go to get their services. Yes, there are a lot of jewelers in town, but not every jeweler will do what I do,” he said.
While Schalla looks forward to Saturdays off and spending more time with his family, he is confident he has made a difference in the community.
“I’ve contributed to a lot of charities and door prizes and things like that,” he said. “I think it has attracted a lot of customers and it’s good publicity. I brought quality products at a price accessible to all.
“I want all my stuff to go to people who are really going to benefit from it. You don’t buy something for your wife for Christmas and she loves it and wears it two or three times and then puts it in the jewelry box. Hopefully she spins and wears it and sees it and it’s special to them.
Schalla will organize a retirement sale. “It doesn’t roll off the tongue very well,” he said. It will start from May 20 to June 17; up to 50% off. Sale does not include prior purchases, repairs or custom work.
Healthy and 60 years old, Schalla says he is ready for his next adventure.
In terms of real estate: the Schalla building has already been sold. Stay tuned as a new commercial announcement is coming.